Radio signals coming from the Milky Way’s galactic center have baffled astronomers at the University of Sydney, since they do not fit any currently understood pattern of variable radio source. This could suggest a new class of stellar object. Officially called ASKAP J173608.2-321635, this object vanished, strengthened, faded, and then reappeared, all at random. These signals were originally detected using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope. Read more for a video and additional information.
The astronomers have detected six radio signals from the source over nine months and attempted to find the object in visual light, but did not do so successfully. So, they decided to use the CSIRO radio telescope and also failed to recognize the source. This lead the team to believe that they have found a yet to be discovered celestial object sitting at the center of the Milky Way.
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The strangest property of this new signal is that it is has a very high polarisation. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time. The brightness of the object also varies dramatically, by a factor of 100, and the signal switches on and off apparently at random. We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Ziteng Wang, lead author of the new study and a PhD student in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.